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2-min read

This is How Scientists are Planning to Answer Questions About Existence of Life on Saturn's Moon

Scientists are now trying to find life on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, as they have recreated the chemical, atmospheric, and surface properties of the moon in a jar.

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Updated:July 10, 2019, 4:16 PM IST
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This is How Scientists are Planning to Answer Questions About Existence of Life on Saturn's Moon
Scientists are now trying to find life on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, as they have recreated the chemical, atmospheric, and surface properties of the moon in a jar.
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Scientists have been trying to find life beyond our planet for years. A favourite topic for both science fiction stories and films (remember ET?), they are always on the quest to find the tiniest possibility of the existence of life form beyond Earth. Case in point, the recent methane mystery on Mars is still in the analysis phase as scientists are trying to look for implications of life. Similarly, there are other Goldilocks zones found in space that are constantly under the scanner.

Scientists are now trying to find life on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, as they have recreated the chemical, atmospheric, and surface properties of the moon in a jar.

Experts, from Southern Methodist University, Texas, are now working towards the analysis of Titan, to spot if there had ever been any signs of life on the Moon before.

The researchers have also gained funding of USD 195,000 to carry out experiments. They would be recreating the conditions of life on Titan in multiple glass cylinders to learn more about the moon’s chemical structure and find any evidence of life, whether in past, present or possibilities for the future.

To carry out the experiment in a jar, scientists would first fill it with water, which would then freeze into ice.

They will then be topping it with ethane that liquidizes as a ‘lake' and the remaining cylinder would be filled up with nitrogen.

According to researchers, different molecules mimicking rainfall would also be introduced in the system and finally, “lakes” would be dried down by raising the temperature to produce the moon surface.

Speaking about the same, lead author Tom Runčevski said, "We are interested in the chemical composition and crystal structure of these organic minerals, because it is believed that minerals played a key role in the origins of life on Earth. Hence, our research may help assess these possibilities for strange “methanogenic” Titanean life”.

While temperatures at Titan are extremely dense and scientists consider it the least hostile planet in the solar system, NASA says it’s the only world apart from Earth where you can find standing bodies of liquid, including rivers, lakes and seas, on its surface. The atmosphere on Titan is also similar to Earth as it’s mainly made up of nitrogen, and a small amount of methane. Currently, possibility of life on Titan is an ongoing open debate where scientists have different ideas around the concept. It is still under scientific assessment and research.

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